Hetty Wainthropp Investigates

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Hetty Wainthropp Investigates
Hetty Wainthropp titles.jpg
Series titles. The background is formed from multiple "photographs".
Genre Cozy Crime
Created by David Cook
Starring Patricia Routledge
Derek Benfield
Dominic Monaghan
John Graham Davies
Suzanne Maddock
Frank Mills
Composer(s) Nigel Hess
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 4
No. of episodes Pilot + 27 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Michael Wearing
Producer(s) Carol Parks
Running time 60 minutes (per episode)
Original network ITV (pilot)/BBC1
Original release 3 January 1996 – 4 September 1998

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is a British cosy crime television programme that aired four series between 1996 and 1998 on BBC One.

Patricia Routledge starred as the title character, Henrietta "Hetty" Wainthropp,[1] Derek Benfield as her patient husband Robert, Dominic Monaghan as her assistant and lodger Geoffrey Shawcross, and John Graham Davies as DCI Adams. Later episodes include Suzanne Maddock as Janet Frazer, a feisty young auto mechanic and Frank Mills as Robert's brother Frank.

In the United States, episodes have been featured on PBS's anthology programme Mystery!.


Hetty Wainthropp Investigates is based on characters from the novel Missing Persons (1986) by David Cook, who co-wrote the episodes with John Griffith Bowen. The incidents in Cook's novel were inspired by his own mother's experiences. Prior to the pilot going into production, Patricia Routledge read the story Missing Persons for BBC Radio 4's A Book At Bedtime in February 1987.[2]

In 1990 ITV broadcast a feature-length pilot, Missing Persons, featuring Tony Melody as Robert Wainthropp and Garry Halliday as Geoffrey Shawcross, but ITV opted not to pursue a series. The storyline of this episode is ignored in the subsequent BBC series, with the first episode establishing Hetty as a detective in her first case and meeting Geoffrey for the first time. The characterization of Hetty was altered considerably for the series from the pilot. The 'original' Hetty was blonde and far more 'theatrical' in her manner. Additionally, the pilot character lived in considerably better circumstances than the home seen in the series.

The BBC series was filmed primarily in Burnley, Darwen, Blackburn, Rossendale, Bolton and other locations in Lancashire.

The music for the series was composed by Nigel Hess, cornet solo performed by Phillip McCann and in 1997 the title track was awarded the Ivor Novello Award for best television theme.

The BBC series was popular with viewers, but no further episodes were commissioned after 1998. In 2008 Patricia Routledge said in an interview that the cast and crew had been told by the BBC at the end of the fourth series that a fifth series would be commissioned, but it never was.[3]


Hetty Wainthropp is a retired working-class woman from Darwen in North West England, who has a knack for jumping to conclusions and solving crimes of varying bafflement which often are too minor to concern the police. Although on occasion her husband offers assistance, he more often than not tends to the home while Hetty gads about the countryside with young Geoffrey in search of resolution and justice. In many episodes Hetty seeks the help and advice of DCI Adams of the local constabulary.


Series 1[edit]

Broadcast Wednesdays on BBC1 at 9:30pm. Produced by Carol Parks.

Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
2 1 "The Bearded Lady" John Glenister John Bowen & David Cook 3 January 1996 (1996-01-03)
Hetty Wainthropp's part-time job in the Post Office leads to an investigation of pension fraud, a new job as a detective, which begins with the uncovering of the death of a bag lady. But was it an accident?
3 2 "Eye Witness" John Glenister John Bowen & David Cook 10 January 1996 (1996-01-10)
Hetty and Robert investigate the case of a missing bird watcher.
4 3 "Fingers" Robert Tronson John Bowen & David Cook 17 January 1996 (1996-01-17)
While on holiday with Robert in Italy, Hetty takes on new clients, who claim their son (who lives in the UK) has been kidnapped by the Mafia who have been sending his fingers to them.
5 4 "Widdershins" Robert Tronson David Cook & John Bowen 24 January 1996 (1996-01-24)
Robert receives news that his Uncle Albert, a former footballer and his childhood hero, has been found dead from an apparent suicide. Refusing to believe it, Hetty discovers the village where he lived used to have witches. Is there a connection?
6 5 "A High Profile" John Glenister John Bowen & David Cook 31 January 1996 (1996-01-31)
Hetty helps a distressed mother to find her schizophrenic son who is in need of his medication.
7 6 "Safe As Houses" Robert Tronson David Cook & John Bowen 7 February 1996 (1996-02-07)
An old acquaintance asks Hetty to track down her missing foster daughter who may be responsible for a series of local arson attacks.

Series 2[edit]

Broadcast Fridays on BBC1 at 9:30pm. Produced by Carol Parks.

Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
8 1 "Poison Pen" Roger Bamford John Bowen & David Cook 29 November 1996 (1996-11-29)
Basking in a glow of publicity from their last successful job, the agency has more work than it can handle. While Hetty tries to help a stricken village, can Robert and Geoffrey conduct their own case?
9 2 "Lost Chords" Robert Tronson David Cook & John Bowen 6 December 1996 (1996-12-06)
It's the 50th anniversary of the Blainthorp Music Festival and there is fierce competition to be chosen as the Golden Voice. Suddenly the finalists start losing their voices - and Hetty must find out why.
10 3 "Runaways" Robert Tronson David Cook & John Bowen 13 December 1996 (1996-12-13)
The Mayor of Titterslow wants Hetty to find his daughter, but there must be no publicity and no police. Hetty discovers where Susan planned to go, but she hasn't arrived. Why not, and who is with her?
11 4 "The Astral Plane" Roger Bamford John Bowen & David Cook 20 December 1996 (1996-12-20)
DCI Adams approaches Hetty with a case he cannot follow up: a spiritualist appears to be blackmailing her clients. Disguised as a grieving widow, Hetty isn't prepared for what she hears.
12 5 "A Rose By Any Other Name" David Giles Jeremy Paul 3 January 1997 (1997-01-03)
Gillian's family are convinced that Lester Rose wants to marry her for her money. Hetty has one week to find out if his intentions are honourable.
13 6 "Woman Of The Year" Rob Benfield John Bowen & David Cook 10 January 1997 (1997-01-10)
Hetty goes undercover as a "battered wife".

Series 3[edit]

Broadcast Fridays on BBC1 at 9:30pm. Produced by Carol Parks.

Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
14 1 "All Stitched Up" David Giles Jeremy Paul 28 November 1997 (1997-11-28)
Hetty joins a quilt making circle in order to find out who is terrorising a housing estate.
15 2 "Daughter Of The Regiment" David Giles Brian Finch 5 December 1997 (1997-12-05)
A bride-to-be is being stalked. When her mother seeks Hetty's help, she is totally unprepared for the consequences.
16 3 "Serving The Community" Don Leaver Philip Martin 12 December 1997 (1997-12-12)
Hetty faces danger when she agrees to track down a gang who have attacked local Indian restaurant owners.
17 4 "Fisticuffs" Don Leaver Jeremy Paul 19 December 1997 (1997-12-19)
Hetty seeks compensation for the victim of a road rage incident in which a female driver hit another in the face.
18 5 "Childsplay" John Glenister Brian Finch 2 January 1998 (1998-01-02)
The Wainthropps' nephew has been excluded from school. But has he been wrongly accused?
19 6 "Pursuit By Proxy" John Glenister Peter Gibbs 9 January 1998 (1998-01-09)
Hetty represents a neighbour at a creditors' meeting and her agency is asked to find a missing company director and his money.
20 7 "A Minor Operation" Jim Goddard Philip Martin 16 January 1998 (1998-01-16)
Hetty is in hospital - an unlikely place to find her most urgent case yet.
21 8 "Helping Hansi" Jim Goddard Philip Martin 23 January 1998 (1998-01-23)
Hetty is asked by Hansi, a German pensioner, to help track down his sister whom he last saw during the war.
22 9 "How Time Flies" David Giles Jeremy Paul 30 January 1998 (1998-01-30)
Hetty's trip down memory lane is interrupted by an absent-minded clock mender who is being pursued by two small-time crooks.

Series 4[edit]

Broadcast Fridays on BBC1 at 9:30pm. Produced by Carol Parks.

Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate
23 1 "Something To Treasure" David Giles Philip Martin 24 July 1998 (1998-07-24)
A widow calls on the Wainthropp Detective Agency to investigate the theft of a book written by her late husband.
24 2 "Family Values" David Giles Brian Finch 31 July 1998 (1998-07-31)
Robert and Geoffrey go undercover when Hetty is asked to investigate the circumstances of a death.
25 3 "Digging For Dirt" Mike Vardy Peter Gibbs 7 August 1998 (1998-08-07)
Hetty is called in to mediate when a local councillor's mother refuses to leave her flat, which is earmarked for demolition.
26 4 "Mind Over Muscle" Robert Tronson Peter Gibbs 14 August 1998 (1998-08-14)
Hetty's latest client is her hairdresser whose husband is attacked, seemingly at random, in a gents' toilet.
27 5 "Blood Relations" Robert Tronson Philip Martin 21 August 1998 (1998-08-21)
A reunion with her long-lost cousin sets Hetty on the trail of smugglers in a quiet Yorkshire fishing village.
28 6 "For Love Nor Money" Mike Vardy Jeremy Paul 4 September 1998 (1998-09-04)
Robert’s brother Frank comes to stay and brings Hetty the case of a missing Victorian school mum.
Parody Special

DVD releases[edit]

The BBC series has been released on DVD by Acorn Media in the UK and United States, by Madman Films in Australia, and by Lime-Lights Pictures in Belgium and the Netherlands.

DVD Name Release Date
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Series 1 7 September 2004 11 October 2004 31 October 2007
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Series 2 9 August 2005 22 January 2007 9 April 2008
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Series 3 31 January 2006 5 March 2007 9 July 2008
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Series 4 27 June 2006 10 September 2007 8 October 2008
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates: The Complete Collection 4 September 2007 7 January 2008 20 October 2009


  1. ^ "A Minor Operation," Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, original air date 16 January 1998
  2. ^ http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/e6865cdcb690483fa9fa2c608b3f467a
  3. ^ Martin, Nicole. "Actress Patricia Routledge Attacks BBC for Dropping Detective Series", The Daily Telegraph, 26 June 2008. Retrieved on 27 June 2008.

External links[edit]